Before I start this review, let me just say right off the bat that I know I'm going to get some mixed feedback here. I know not everyone is going to agree with what I say about at least one of these books. That's ok. Please remember that my opinions are just that - opinions - and that neither of these books are The Bible. Every book has its faults. Furthermore, no matter what book we read, we always need to be evaluating what it says against the truth of Scripture.
Ok, so...I'll tackle the semi-controversial one first. Just for fun.
Created To Be His Helpmeet - Debi Pearl
I first saw this book at my sister-in-law's house over Thanksgiving about a year ago. Her comment was that at first reading, some of it is extremely radical, but hey! Can't we all afford to be more radical in our Christian lives and in our marriages? I have to admit I picked it up after reading about all the controversy surrounding the Pearls, mainly because of their child training book, To Train Up A Child.
I have to agree with my sister-in-law here: lots of it is radical. The picture of a godly wife that she presents is vastly different from what the unbelieving world would say is desirable. She begins by discussing God's plan for a wife's role within marriage, as a help-meet for him.
God made you to be a help meet to your husband so that you can bolster him, making him more productive and efficient at whatever he chooses to do. You are not on the board of directors with an equal vote. You have no authority to set the agenda. But if he can trust you, he will make you his closest advisor, his confidante, his press secretary, his head of state, his vice-president, his ambassador, his public relations expert, maybe even his speech writer - all at his discretion (p.23).Debi goes on to flesh out what it means to be a helpmeet, first discussing godly character qualities such as joy, thankfulness, and wisdom. There are some points in this section that I've never read presented so strongly in other books. She talks about learning to understand your husband and adapting your life to fit together in fulfilling what God has called him to do. In Part Two of the book, she works her way through each component of Titus 2:3-5, "Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."
All of that is good. The book, while not entirely coherently written in parts, definitely pushes us to be more active and unselfish in our marriages. I was honestly challenged by some portions of it and I will keep it to refer back to. And here comes the "but"...Debi has a very harsh tone throughout much of the book and I find that somewhat off-putting. I would imagine, however, that there are some women who absolutely need to be told they are destroying their marriages in a very strong tone. I find some of her applications for the Titus 2 verses to be completely ridiculous. For example, when she discusses the phrase "to be good" (the word "kind" is translated to "good" in the KJV, which is the only version of the Bible the Pearls find to be accurate) she presents what she calls the "Standard Dumb Cluck Test" for whether a wife is good. The first three questions completely alienate me: "Does natural healing not grab your attention? Have you neglected to check out what vaccinations might do to your child's health? Have you considered what store-bought, prepared cereal has in it? (p.218)" I don't use natural healing methods, I fully vaccinate all my children and I happily buy store-bought cereal for them; to imply that I therefore am not a godly wife is obnoxious and legalistic.
All in all, I would cautiously recommend this book, but I would advise going into it with a mind actively engaged in filtering everything through the lens of Scripture. While Debi hits the mark on many points, she misses it widely in many other parts. If you want a more in-depth review, you can read about it on my other blog.
Helper By Design - Elyse Fitzpatrick
Oh, how I love this book! I love it so much I'm not even going to give it a long review. I'll just tell you how awesome it is. Elyse Fitzpatrick is a big name in the biblical (nouthetic) counseling world. She's published a whole slew of books ranging from women counseling women, to parenting, fear/worry, and food addictions. Her approach to any and every issue is gospel-centered, Jesus-centered and cross-focused. Her writing style flows easily and while recommending some radical actions, she comes from a place of gentle exhortation. The way she describes how God created women to be their husband's helper is just beautiful.
God intended that Adam learn the joys of dependence, fellowship, diversity, and unity together with someone who complemented or corresponded to him. In fact, that's what the word meet means as used in helpmeet. In different versions of hte Bible this word meet is translated "suitable", "comparable", "fit" and "counterpart". In other words, Eve was God's finishing touch for Adam. She, like no other being, completed and harmonized with him. And God gave a wife as a good gift (Genesis 3:12; Proverbs 18:22) to the man. (p.36)Elyse discusses companionship, submission, sexual intimacy, leaving & cleaving, and communication. One thing I greatly appreciate about this book was the near lack of nit-picky applications and harsh criticism. Several pages of each chapter are dedicated to a list of questions intended for self-evaluation and reflection about how we individually are acting, thinking or feeling in a certain area. You might come away from this book feeling as though you need to change aspects of your life, but it won't come from guilt, it will come from conviction. At the end of each chapter is a section for further study and evaluation, which could probably be used well in a women's small group.
Ok...go for it. I know many of you have opinions and experiences with one or both of these books. Let's hear them. But let's just be kind to each other in expressing those differences if we disagree.
Sharing with: Time Warp Wife, Women Living Well, NOBH, Deep Roots at Home, Wifey Wednesday, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, We Are THAT Family, Far Above Rubies, Growing Home